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The Office of the President

Response to hateful graffiti on campus

From:Office of the President <presidentsoffice@newpaltz.edu>
Sent: Friday, November 11, 2016 2:18 PM
To: [all-fs], [all-stu]
Subject: Response to hateful graffiti on campus

Members of the SUNY New Paltz Community:

I am re-sending my message of last night, highlighting specific language relevant to incidents of hate speech and bias acts, including hateful graffiti, on the campus. The incident that has raised particular concern is being investigated in full by the University Police Department. We do not identify details of such matters in a broadcast message to the community to avoid compromising an ongoing investigation.

The occurrence of incidents like these at many other colleges and universities across the nation does not let us excuse them on our campus.  We must remain committed to creating a campus where all members feel safe, supported, and encouraged in their academic endeavors and personal lives.

Donald Christian
President


 

From: Donald P. Christian
Sent: Thursday, November 10, 2016 11:30 PM
To: [all-fs], [all-stu]
Subject: Message to the SUNY New Paltz Community:

Dear SUNY New Paltz Faculty, Staff, and Students,

I write to you as a member of our community, a leader, a father, and an educator. I know that we are all, in different ways and in different spaces trying to work through a range of intense emotions, including fear and pain, to the outcome of this week’s presidential election. We condemn hate speech and bias acts in our community and recognize that anytime they occur they harm the entire community. We will bring to bear all appropriate processes on any report of bias and encourage students to seek support through our Psychological Counseling Center. We must expose these acts to uncover the bias and educate broadly to build solidarity and community against such harm. I hope that we all recognize that this is a time when we particularly want to speak and listen respectfully with each other, in and out of the classroom, and reach out and support each other. I encourage faculty across all areas to consider the whole life of the students in your classrooms. Check in with students, create spaces in class to acknowledge what students may be feeling, support and model respectful exchange. Refer students for assistance to the Office of Student Affairs or Psychological Counseling Center, if you see that they are struggling or need to talk.

In support of our mission I draw your attention to a number of programs available in the coming days that can help create spaces for learning and exchange of perspectives. These include a panel discussion and follow-up presentation on the earlier Jonathan Haidt free speech event (Monday, November 14, 5:30-8:00 pm, LC102) and a presentation on “The 2016 Election in Historical Perspective” sponsored by the History Department in collaboration with the Departments of Black Studies and Political Science (Tuesday, November 15, 5:00-6:30, LC 102). It may also be helpful to see how organizations like the ACLU frame issues of speech especially on college campuses https://www.aclu.org/other/hate-speech-campus.

Finally, below, I share the introductory paragraph of my monthly report to the Academic and Professional Faculty, sent this afternoon. I hope that this message will give you a sense of how I am thinking about the week’s events, even as I – like you – try to make sense of what lies ahead. Through all of those uncertainties, rest assured that we will continue to pay attention to and support the people – all people, and especially students – in our community.

President’s Report to the Academic and Professional Faculty November 11, 2016

I wish to open this month’s report, coming on the heels of a historic presidential election, by acknowledging that the outcome has generated mixed reaction among members of our community -- uncertainty and concern among some, satisfaction for others. Our campus is a diverse array of different races, religions, national origins, sexual and gender orientations/identities, ages, physical abilities, intellectual interests and viewpoints. This is a time when our ability to live with ambiguity and change will be fully tested, and as college president, I urge patience and tolerance with each other. In the midst of this national transition, the College will remain true to our values of providing access to high-quality educational opportunity for all. Know that I am committed to our educational mission and the academic and human values at the core of our work. As educators, we must seize this opportunity to help our students understand and be mindful of the historic, cultural, social and psychological elements at play at this time in our nation through our coursework, our conversations and our treatment of each other.

Donald P. Christian
President